Presidential hopeful Andrea Ngombet speaking to Congolese students from African Institute of Management in Dakar-Senegal-September 2019

By Arsène Elikia

Three Human rights organizations OCDH, Acat-France and AEDH denounced this Friday, June 12 the arbitrary detention in detention of four young activists of the political movement “Incarner l’Espoir” of Andréa NGOMBET, a candidate to the next presidential election in March 2021.

Parfait Mabiala, Meldry Rolph Dissivoulou, Franck Donald Saboukoulou and Miangue Ossebi, supporters of the political movement “Incarner l’Espoir”, have been detained for more than six months for exercising their freedom of expression on social media and criticizing the government.

Observers say the continued detention of the four supporters is contrary to Congolese law, which stipulates inter alia that “preventive detention is an exceptional measure” (Art.119), ” it cannot exceed four months and prohibits that it be extended for more two months “(Article 121) write the NGOs in the press release. This detention also violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which prohibits the use of arbitrary detention.

From left to right Franck Donald Saboukoulou, Parfait Mabiala, Miangue Ossebi and Meldry Rolph Dissivoulou

Oko Ngakala, the Public Prosecutor at the Brazzaville Court of First Instance, on June 11, 2020, appealed the freedom order of March 30 without bringing new elements to the file. This approach by the Prosecutor immediately blocked the provisional release of the four young activists despite the irregular nature of the appeal. According to the Congolese criminal procedure code, the appeal period is 24 hours (Art.171).

The act of the Public Prosecutor, which obeys a usual dilatory strategy, reflects the manifest will of the regime in place to see these young activists remain in prison as long as possible despite the arbitrary nature of their situation”  Trésor Nzila,  Director OCDH executive said in a statement.

The three NGO’s express their deep concern about the non-application, more than two months after its publication, of the order for the provisional release of four young Congolese activists, arbitrarily detained in the Brazzaville prison for “attempt to the internal security of the State ”, an offence regularly brandished by the Congolese justice to silence any critical voice to the regime in power in Brazzaville.

The files of the four defendants are currently at the level of the Indictment Division at the Court of Appeal for opinion.

Our organizations believe that the Congolese justice system would do better to ensure that fundamental freedoms, like the right to freedom of expression, can be guaranteed in all circumstances in the country, rather than striving to maintain citizens in detention in defiance of the law, ” says Clément Boursin, Africa manager at ACAT-France.

The organizations OCDH, ACAT-France and AEDH urge the judicial authorities of Brazzaville to listen to the judge who asked for the release of Parfait Mabiala, Meldry Rolph Dissivoulou, Franck Donald Saboukoulou, Miangue Ossebi, to immediately put an end to the judicial harassment of which these people are victims, and to release them immediately.